Caribbean News Now!

About Us Contact Us


Jump to your country or territory of interest

Advertise with us

Reach our daily visitors from around the Caribbean and throughout the world. Click here for rates and placements.


Submit news and opinion for publication


Click here to receive our daily regional news headlines by email.


Click here to browse our extensive archives going back to 2004

Also, for the convenience of our readers and the online community generally, we have reproduced the complete Caribbean Net News archives from 2004 to 2010 here.

Climate Change Watch

The Caribbean is especially vulnerable to rising sea levels brought about by global warming. Read the latest news and information here...

Follow Caribbean News Now on Twitter
Connect with Caribbean News Now on Linkedin

News from the Caribbean:

Back To Today's News

Letter: Competitiveness rides on work ethic
Published on April 10, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

The fabrication yard at La Brea, Trinidad and Tobago, is a joint venture between a local company, Welfab Ltd. and Chet Morrison Contractors of the US. It is as well equipped as similar yards in the US and is situated in the midst of the Trinidad and Tobago petroleum fields. Further, with Guyana poised to become a local producer of petroleum the local yard is well placed to attract well-paying business.

However, it has just lost the job to build the bpTT’s Angelin natural gas production platform because of a tight timeline and other competitive issues, says bpTT (British Petroleum, Trinidad and Tobago), who suffered from various people inspired problems in the building of its last platform at this local yard and had to split the task into two – removing part of the job to a US company.

The general conclusion is that the local yard is not globally competitive. In fact the yard has the same technology as other yards. Hence its competitiveness is not on innovative or top of the line technology but on the production culture of its employees and its surrounding community. It is noteworthy that the parliamentary representative of the area rebuked the community for their behaviour during the last contract, claiming that this contributed to the present situation. Yet she was condemned for this response which was viewed as her retaliation for the people’s previous criticism of her.

Further, in this period of bpTT’s decision making there were/are labour conflicts on one of the Trinidad and Tobago production platforms, forcing an ejection of workers and their replacement by others; all of this described by the minister of finance as normal life in Trinidad and Tobago’s industrial environment! Hence, it is worth repeating, global competitiveness is not only knowledge, technology innovation or local skill set. It includes the industrial environment and the work ethic of the workforce.

The recent book by economist Dr Terrence Farrell, ‘We Like It So?’, is timely in that it addresses in general the work ethic of the population. He is particularly concerned about the ‘Ambivalence’ of the workforce. He defines ambivalence as;

“…the ambivalent does not know and understand who he really is. At one time or circumstance he may identify with and adopt a set of values and standards; at another time or circumstance may reject or repudiate them and seek to identify himself with another set.”

The community of La Brea at one time recognised the importance of the fabrication company and hence its need to be very good at what it does, be globally competitive since its prospective clients are global players. Also that it provides income for the community. But at another time was willing to shut down the company in the midst of a major contract since a sub group wanted a ‘wuk’ – totally disregarding the operating and staffing decisions of this global competitor. The community refused to see the contradiction of the two positions and all suffered the consequences- the worker, the community, the company.

In the allied situation of the aggravated industrial conflict on a platform, the minister of finance, one of Farrell’s elite, says that this is our industrial circumstance, not relating this to how this company’s competitiveness is viewed internationally – we like it so!

Farrell tells us: “Ambivalence… may well be a peculiar psychological consequence engendered by living conditions and circumstances of survival in colonial societies marked by institutions of plantation slavery and indentureship…”

In many of my contributions on the diversification of our economy I referred to the historical rigidity of the Trinidad and Tobago private sector to adapt to what is required for the creation, operation of globally competitive export companies. The Innovation Diamond, my model for the national innovation system, can facilitate the creation of such innovative SMEs. However, the upscaling of these into global commercial companies depends also on the work ethic of the population.

Is the experience of La Brea a forerunner of what to expect in our diversification thrust even if we are able to acquire the knowledge and innovate?

Mary K King
St Augustine
Reads: 3540

Click here to receive daily news headlines from Caribbean News Now!



No comments on this topic yet. Be the first one to submit a comment.


As a result of our comments feature being overtaken in recent weeks by spammers using fake email addresses, producing a large number of bounced verification emails each day, we have reluctantly decided to suspend the comments section until further notice.

User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment author and are not representative of Caribbean News Now or its staff. Caribbean News Now accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Caribbean News Now reserves the right to remove, edit or censor any comments. Any content that is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will not be approved.
Before posting, please refer to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Other Headlines:

Regional Sports: